Ralph Northam

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a pretty insulting shot at Virginia teachers.

“Speaking to the association’s annual Capital Conference, Northam said the state’s teachers make $7,500 less than the national average.

“‘There are some things that I think need attention, and some of them sooner than later,’ he said. ‘The first is, we need to be able to recruit and retain the best talent out there to teach our children.'”  (InsideNoVa)

I guess Northam thinks the talent Virginia schools have recruited isn’t the best.

How else can you take his comments?  He’s saying unless we pay teachers more, we’re stuck with what he have.  If we really want the “best talent” (HIS WORDS), we can’t offer teachers the salaries that we offer the schleps we have now.

The message is clear:  Northam thinks other states have better teachers than Virginia does, and it’s because other states pay more.

If course, he adds “and retain” to his “recruit” phrasing but that’s for show.  If you can’t recruit the best, you obviously can’t retain what you never recruited in the first place.

Follow his logic.  If Virginia already had the “best talent” and we needed to simply “retain” them, then why worry about recruiting?  If we have the “best talent,” then of course we are already recruiting the best talent.  No problem.

If Northam truly believes we have the best talent, how did that happen with his assertion that we pay so little?  If Virginia teachers are the best at the current salaries, how will paying more help recruitment?

If the truth is Virginia teachers are the best, then recruitment of the best is not a problem, and certainly not a reason to boost salaries, then the only issue is retaining the great teachers we have.

Of course, then Northam would have to demonstrate that Virginia teachers are either quitting to live in other states or quitting teaching entirely solely for the money.

Is that what Northam is saying?  Teachers teach for the money, and they’re either going to quit Virginia or the classroom without a raise?

Either way you slice it, Northam’s comments only make logical sense if you believe our current teachers aren’t the “best talent” and more money will help us recruit the best.

If I was a teacher, I don’t know what would make me madder:  That Northam thinks current teachers aren’t the best talent, or that he thinks people became teachers for the money.

It’s not like the pay scales for teachers is a big secret.  Every teachers’ union complains that teachers aren’t paid enough.

Every union, every budget, every year.

If anyone believes that very smart college graduates become teachers and suddenly discover how much teachers make, I don’t know what to tell you.  Teacher pay scales are set.  You know instantly what a 10-year, 15-year or 20-year teacher makes.

I understand Northam has to play to his teacher union base, which has to hypocritically argue that all Virginia teachers are the best in America, but they need more money because Virginia can’t recruit the “best.”

I’d like to know what Northam really thinks about the quality of Virginia teachers.

Since Northam says we need higher teacher salaries to “recruit” the “best talent,” what quality have we been recruiting up to now?

Since Northam says we need higher teacher salaries to “retain” the “best talent,” where did this best talent come from if we can’t recruit them in the first place?

Either we are recruiting the best and they are leaving for greener pastures, or what we have now isn’t the best.  It can’t be both.

Which is it, Governor Northam?  Are Virginia teachers the “best talent” or not?